Constrained by their own political egos, politicians are willing to let the UK head to disaster.
We thought that things looked bad when the Government was held together by a coalition deal. Commentators predicted collapse early on, but the Coalition Government largely ran smoothly. The Liberal Democrats were willing to enable the Tories, but now, despite having a minority Government, the Conservatives look weaker than ever.
The election feels as though it was almost a lifetime ago, and surely for Theresa May it must feel even longer than that. There’s barely a day that has gone by without spectators wondering whether this was it and that the Government would fall apart. There has been the sexual harassment scandal, the DUP pulling the rug from under May’s feet, the rise of Corbyn and then Tory treachery (usually in the shape of Boris Johnson). If the days of Gordon Brown looked like a Shakespearean drama, they have nothing on 2017.
Yet, the Government clings on and will continue to endure because they do not want to be unseated. Brown was hated by Labour and there were plots every other week, but still he remained. The Conservatives know that May is their best bet. Boris is distrusted, partly for how he treats May but also because of the Brexit fiasco (as well as his blunders as Foreign Secretary). Rees-Mogg may have a certain social media popularity but he’s a niche figure, and completely draconian. Even other Conservatives think he is too extreme. With no clear successor and a General Election (after a broken Conservative stepped down) already done, there is no appetite to repeat that same process. The Conservatives know too that even doing so risks throwing away power. They remember the wilderness years. May will continue, as did Brown, but it will be a stumbling government that leads us into the biggest change in modern history.
“May will continue, as did Brown, but it will be a stumbling government that leads us into the biggest change in modern history”
It is because of ego games and the fear of losing power though that will ultimately damage the UK irrevocably. We need a strong government for the Brexit negotiations. We’re already paying the price for having a weak one. The bill is a Leavers worst nightmare – despite what they may claim – and the role of the European Court of Justice is going to grate on Leavers even more. We’re paying a staggering price to leave the EU, but to retain many of the same structures and access, without having any say. We’re paying to be a member without rights, essentially.
Whatever Leavers envisioned, surely it was better than paying out billions to have a weaker deal that keeps us as close to the EU? Then again, the Leave campaign were never exactly clear. Brexit will be a disaster with a weak government, and internal Tory battles are dominating the political landscape. If the Government had any integrity then it would stop the Brexit process. We’re in no shape at all to deliver a good deal, and a poor deal could ruin our economy. Yet, it will persist because suspending the deal would be a political catastrophe and the Tories know it would finish them. The Brexit debates tried to invoke patriotism at every turn, and yet those who claim patriotism are willing to watch the country head to disaster just to try to cling onto power.
Voting Leave was a mistake, but the biggest mistake of all will be when we can see clearly how bad it will be but we still decide to go through with it anyway. The UK is now the farce of the world.